Recovery efforts continue after deadly tornado

GAYLORD, Mich. (WNEM) – On Sunday morning, Michigan State Police said no one was missing and power had been restored to 99% of customers following a deadly tornado in northern Michigan.

Consumers Energy said 15,000 customers were affected by the storm and dozens of power lines and poles were downed.

Two people were killed in the rare May 20 tornado that damaged homes, roads, small businesses. As of May 21, no other deaths have been reported.

Lt Derrick Carroll said both victims were in their 60s and lived in the Nottingham Forest Mobile Home Park.

On Sunday afternoon, the State Police said residents of Nottingham could return to their properties after 1 p.m. To enter, residents must present an identity document and proof of address.

MSP Aviation photos of the devastation at the Nottingham Forest mobile home park in Gaylord.(Michigan State Police)

Investigators said the first victim was not found dead, but the second was. Otsego County Fire Chief Chris Martin said the mobile home park suffered massive damage and about 95% of the park was destroyed.

State police said there are currently 44 casualties in the area and surrounding hospitals.

The gendarmerie has set up a hotline to report missing persons. If you need to report a missing person, call 989-732-7858.

A National Weather Service report classified the storm as an EF-3 tornado. Several thunderstorms were tracked across northern Michigan, with some producing large hail in some areas.

A weather balloon launch conducted ahead of Friday’s storm detected a rare environment that would create damaging winds, very large hail and tornadoes.

The National Weather Service estimates peak winds reached around 150 mph and the tornado traveled 16.6 miles before lifting a mile northeast of Sparr.

Large hail in Almost Isle County.  Photo courtesy of Stephanie Adamski
Large hail in Almost Isle County. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Adamski(National Weather Service)

John Boris, a National Weather Service station meteorologist in Gaylord, said the tornado was highly unusual. According to Boris, the tornado stayed on the ground for 26 minutes, moved at about 55 miles per hour and took about three minutes to cross the city.

Of the 15 or so tornadoes that typically hit Michigan in a single year, Boris said Gaylord rarely sees high winds and most are in the state.

On Saturday afternoon, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist visited the site of the storm to assess the damage.

“From food to formula to diapers, we’re going to make sure people have everything they need,” Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist said. “That’s what we do, we support each other. We stand up for each other.

Gilchrist said he is praying for every soul who has been affected by the storm and hopes they will continue to make progress in their recovery.

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II held a press conference on recovery efforts after...
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II held a press conference on recovery efforts after touring the affected areas.(Michigan State Police)

On Saturday afternoon, the state police activated 211, which residents can use to get resources or self-report damage to homes. State police said residents do not need to file a police report for vehicle damage caused by the tornado. Instead, residents should contact an insurance agent to make a claim.

The Gaylord Police Department said insurance agencies will have to inspect damaged property as it is.

Local police also said loose vegetation can be taken to the Gaylord Public Works Department. Bulk building materials can be brought to the Ostego County Fairgrounds parking lot.

The Gaylord Police Department also warns residents against contractors, saying repairs are needed but contractors sometimes defraud homeowners during disasters.

Gaylord E-Free Church offers hot meals, diapers and hygiene items. Medical services and shelter are also available. You can call 989-732-2647 with questions.

If you would like to help residents affected by the tornado, Ostego County United Way is accepting donations at this link.


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